Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Monday, November 29, 2010

Funny Girl

She was a star by 1914.

She made her first picture in 1913, her last in 1971.

Her luxurious hair was long enough to sit on.

She was Chaplin's first leading lady.

In fact, at Mack Sennett's request, she coached Charlie Chaplin in the techniques of film acting.

She owned a kings ransom of jewels.

She was lent a private train car owned by Evelyn Walsh McLean for a cross-country trip.

She did a command performance for the Dowager Empress of China.

She met General George Pershing.

She danced with the Prince of Wales.

Her dearest friend was Mabel Normand.

She owned the first Rolls Royce in Hollywood.  It had a genuine silver radiator.

The Rolls was a gift from her husband.

She was a funny girl and she was Fatty's Girl.

She was:

Minta Durfee Arbuckle!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

About Those Jewels...

When I said I had written verbiage designed to "throw you off track", this apparently gave Ask The Cool Cookie ideas.  The comment he left scolding Normadesmond was designed to throw you off track.  Very crafty Cookie.  Especially considering that he had already sent me an email containing the correct answer!

No the jewelry in question did not belong to Mr. Sinatra.  Before I hand out the "Smartest Kid In School" award, I have to give an honorable mention as there was a correct guess submitted in the comments section yesterday.  Congrats to Rosalind for guessing...

Johnny Stompanato.

His most famous picture
The thrilling and dangerous affair between Stompanato and Lana Turner ended with his stabbing death in Lana's boudoir.  All these years later, people still wonder if the knife was really wielded Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane (who was convicted) or by Lana herself.

Lana's wrenching and brilliant courtroom performance testimony

In a final twist to the mystery, Cookies correct answer was eclipsed, literally by one minute, by a correct answer email from Jason!

Gold - Jason!
Silver - Cookie!
Bronze - Rosalind!

Johnny in happier times.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Imp And The Showgirl

Billy and Marilyn during the 'subway grate' re-shoots on the Fox lot.  With the stress of principle shooting, New York, and DiMaggio behind, this looks like a much easier time for them both.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Quizzical Bijoux

No, that's not the name of the latest Gender Illusionist. (hell, maybe it is)  But rather the same 'ol mystery game with a twist.

But it has the same 'ol rules:  If you absolutely, positively know the answer to the mystery, send it in an email to me and you will be acknowledged when the answer is posted.  If you'd like to take a stab at the answer, leave it in the comments section.

Who does this collection of baubles belong to?

* In the text of this post the is a clue hidden in the verbiage.  There is also verbiage to throw you off track.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Good Things In Life...

It's such a relief to have Graham Kerr in the kitchen preparing my Thanksgiving feast.

And while he's busy stuffing my bird, drinking all the hooch, making dinner, I thought I take a moment to count my thankful blessings:

* I'm very thankful to all of you who stop by here every day.

* I'm thankful to have my new tour business, which has brought me more happiness than anything I've ever done.  If you haven't been to the website for it yet-do have a look

* Most of all, I'm ever thankful to each host of each blog listed to the right in the "The Ones To Watch" category.  Truth is, I'm madly in love with all of you guys.  All year you have given me nothing but laughs, love, support, enlightenment, education and encouragement.

What a lucky guy I am this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's On The Nightstand

Julie Adams of "Creature From The Black Lagoon" fame*

 *For the sake of continuity, Julie Adams is the name used in credits pretty consistently since 1955, prior to that however, she was billed as Julia Adams (as was the case in 'Black Lagoon'), and before 1951she used Betty Adams (her real name) in billing.

I'm currently reading "A History of the Hal Roach Studios" by Richard Lewis Ward.  It was a gift from the ever-licious Donna Lethal.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Fur.

Evelyn Brent wears monkey fur.

Not to be outdone, Gloria Swanson insists that monkey fur wear her!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So They Say...

Upon hearing of the death of Calvin Coolidge, Dorothy Parker quipped, "How can they tell?"  To which Robert Benchley replied, "He had an erection."

Robert Benchley passed away on this date in 1945

"Toward the end of her life she looked like a hungry insect magnified a million times."
Quentin Crisp on Joan Crawford

Quentin Crisp died on this date in 1999

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quizzical, Done.

 It was not to be for either Mickey Dolenz or Mike Nesmith, but rather it was the lucky (and talented) Henry Winkler who scored the role of The Fonz.

That dang smarty-pants Barbara has done it again!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not To Be Forgotten

She was one of the first Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties.

She originated the role of Roxie Hart.

She was directed by both DeMille and D.W. Griffith.

She appeared opposite Lon Chaney in his last silent film.

When she married, the wedding was performed by New York Mayor Jimmy Walker.

She was the darling, exquisite and wildly talented 
Phyllis Haver.

Born in Kansas in the year 1899, Haver and her mother relocated to Los Angeles when she was just eight years old.  While still a student at Manual Arts High School, she got a job playing piano accompaniment in a local movie theater.  Not long after while doing extra work at Paramount, she auditioned for, and was signed with, Mack Sennett.  It was there that she learned her craft, reconnected with childhood friend Marie Provost and bonded with fellow starlet Gloria Swanson.

After 8 years of comedy shorts, she earned her dramatic credibility in Goldwyn's 1923 feature "The Christian".  Stardom was hers with John Ford's "What Price Glory"  and Victor Flemming's "The Way Of All Flesh".  Then came DeMille's picturization of "Chicago" (yes flapper/murderess Roxie Hart originated in the flapper era) and Griffith's "The Battle Of The Sexes".

Through heady days Haver always kept her head.  When Haver had been a part of the film colony for ten years, a fan magazine said that her name had never once been linked with scandal or gossip. She had been much too busy scaling the ladder of success to allow herself to be caught on any retarding rungs.  In real estate she made a modest, but respectable, fortune. One reporter noticed her carrying something on the set and assumed it was a map for tours. He learned it was a plat for a real estate addition in Los Angeles. She made the comment once that she didn't have time for romance and was afraid of it until she got her career really started and her mother taken care of financially.

That all changed in 1929 when she fell in love with New York millionaire,  William "Billy" Seeman.  Intent on marriage, she informed MGM that she was breaking her contract by utilizing the 'Act of God' clause.  When he asked her how she figured, she answered, "If marrying a millionaire ain't an act of God, I don't know what is!"

Despite numerous offers to return to pictures, with a penthouse in the city and an estate in Connecticut, Haver's stock reply was, "Frankly I haven't a remnant of ambition beyond being just Mrs. William Seeman."  It lasted as long as it could have.  Some say Billy was a drinker and an abuser, some say that she wanted children and he didn't, and some say he took up with a younger girl.  Which ever it was, or perhaps a combination of all, they were divorced in 1945.  She was given the homes and a "very fair" settlement, but friends said she never really got over losing her Billy.

Her last appearance was in 1956 when "This Is Your Life" honored Mack Sennett.  She was flooded with correspondence from old friends and fans alike on how beautiful she still looked and how wonderful it was to see her.  She had always loved and thanked Sennett for giving her her start.  She called him Dad.  Four years later when she learned he had died penniless, she was despondent.  Hear she was with all this money in this mansion, if she had only known, she would have gladly helped him.

It was fifty years ago today, alone and in those desperate hours after the  paid house maid/companion had gone home, she swallowed enough barbiturates to end her life at 61.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meanwhile, Back At Doug And Mary's Shop...

The 1922 edition of  Robin Hood was actually not titled "Robin Hood".  It's official title (as stated on the post card above) was "Douglas Fairbanks In Robin Hood".  Now I'm not one to accuse Fairbanks of having a tiny sense of self importance or anything, but ego really wasn't behind this title.  The budget for this little 'ol picture was enormous, and the sets (as you can see both above and below) were the largest in film history to date.  The castle tower was 90 feet tall and the scope of the constructed village was spread over 10 acres.

With such a vast and expensive undertaking, they were taking it slow to make sure and get it right.  That being the case, Doug's concern (knowing how Hollywood worked, even by 1922) was that some other production company would rush through the filming of the Robin Hood story and beat them to release, thus causing confusion in the event that there  were 2 'Robin Hoods' in theaters.  So just to be sure there was no confusion on who was making the 'quality' version:  "Douglas Fairbanks In Robin Hood".

His efforts were as rewarded.  It's a spectacular picture and it also has the distinction of being the first motion picture to be given, what we now know of as, a Hollywood Premiere.  The first picture shown in the gorgeous Grauman's Egyptian Theater:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quizzical Answer

Paul Williams, Danny Hutton, Stephen Stills, Rodney Bingenheimer, Bryan MacLean, Harry Nilsson and over 400 others unsuccessfully auditioned for The Monkees TV show in 1965.

Ayem8y cleverly couched his correct answer between two incorrect guess to throw me off  no doubt, and to try and keep me from declaring him today's "Smartest Boy In School!"

Now just to keep the madness going:  What role did former Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith lose after the audition process in 1973?

Class?  Anyone?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Girls...

Jayne Mansfield, Liza Minnelli, Mitzi Gaynor and Kaye Ballard

...Wish you a happy Monday!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's Get Quizzical

So before we leave the 1960s LA rock scene, I thought I'd pose a little musical mystery tour for ya.

As always, if you know the answer for certain, email it to me.  Otherwise have a go at it in the comments section:

What do the following people have in common besides the 60s Hollywood music scene in general?

Paul Williams
Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night

Stephen Stills of CSNY
Rodney Bingenheimer, KROQ DJ
Bryan MacLean of the band Love
The Legendary Harry Nilsson

Thursday, November 11, 2010


High atop groovy Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, there is a street and a section named Lookout Mountain.  It's rather aptly named, as it turns out, and not only in the context of the spectacular vistas.  The name also works if you shift the meaning more to the kind used in the Shangri-La's epic 1964 hit "Leader Of The Pack".  You know, the part right after she begs him to go slow, she screams "lookout, Lookout, LOOKOUT!!"

On the one hand you have the rustic, unmatched beauty of a steep hillside that has been a draw to the creative and famous since the beginning of filmdom:  Clara Bow, Tom Mix, Garbo, Harry Houdini, Bessie Love.  You also have the birth of the Hippies with Vito Paulekas, Szou (his wife), Carl Orestes Franzoni (his constant sidekick) and their legion of followers.  And finally, as everybody knows, you have the birth of the Southern California 1960s rock explosion with residents, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Stephen Stills, The Mamas and The Papas, The Byrds, Love, Little Feat, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Association, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, The Monkees, Van Dyke Parks, and on and on.

There were darker forces too.  Over the years there's also been a string of suspicious suicides and grizzly murders, most famous of which were Ramon Navarro and the Wonderland Murders.  And come to find out, it wasn't just young girls who were comin' to the Canyon.

Into this heady, theatrical mix of star dust, astrology and acid trips, whom do you think would be the least likely occupant to enjoy a stay of thirty years?  Could it be, dare I say, The Military/Intelligence Complex!?!?!

Originally occupied in 1941 the 2.5 acre property was used as an air defense station.  However, from 1947 until 1969 (supposedly, though some say years later), it was a secret government film studio, perhaps the world's only completely self-contained movie studio. With 100,000 square feet of floor space, the covert studio included sound stages, screening rooms, film processing labs, editing facilities, an animation department, and seventeen climate-controlled film vaults. It also had underground parking, a helicopter pad and a bomb shelter.  While operational, the studio produced some 19,000 classified motion pictures.  The facility retained as many as 250 producers, directors, technicians, editors, animators, etc., both civilian and military, all with top security clearances - and all reporting to work in a secluded corner of Laurel Canyon.  To date, only a few dozen of it's film products have been declassified.

Imagine, cold war shenannigans and Cass Elliot, Peter Fonda and Jim Morrison all happily coexisting!

Mitchell, Crosby and Clapton hangin' in Cass Elliot's backyard, 1968

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oliver Twisted

One of Felix In Hollywood's favorite glamor girls, Edna Mae Oliver, celebrates her 127th birthday today!

My affection for this 'voice of snarky reason' is so great that she was the topic of a post in my first thirty days of life here in blogland.  To re-live the glory and excitement, go here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

59 Years Ago Today...

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner marry in the suburban Philadelphia home of Lester Sachs before 20 guests.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, after kissing his bride, Sinatra shook the officiating Judge's hand and said, "Well, we finally made it."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mother Mansfield

Our Jayne looks positively, glowingly radiant as she prepares, in anticipation, for the arrival of Mr. Stork who will bring Mickey Jr.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

There Never Was A Girl Like.....

Virginia Van Upp!  Child actress, turned scenarist, turned ace screenplay writer, and finally one of the only women executives of her time in Hollywood.  She held the #2 spot at Columbia when Harry Cohn made her Head Executive Producer.

For all her extraordinary accomplishments, I am most thankful to her for presenting us with the most smoldering dame of all time:
Gilda "If I'd been a ranch, they would have called me the Bar Nothing" Mundson Farrell!

Hayworth and Ford loving their work.

BTS of Hayworth, Ford and Van Upp.